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Award recognizes Nolan’s extraordinary and unwavering advocacy for historic preservation

On April 22, the City of St. Augustine will recognize one of the community’s most enthusiastic and committed advocates of historic preservation when the Adelaide Sanchez Award for Historic Education and Interpretation is presented to David Nolan.  The award nomination was made by former Mayor Nancy Shaver and supported unanimously by the entire City Commission.

The presentation of the Adelaide Sanchez Award will be on Monday, April 22 at 4:00pm, just prior to the regular meeting of the St. Augustine City Commission. The presentation, which is open to the public, will be held in The Alcazar Room, City Hall, 75 King St., and may be viewed live via Government TV/Comcast channel 3 and online at where it will be available for on-demand viewing the following day.

Nominations for the Adelaide Sanchez Award are made by a member of the St. Augustine City Commission and approved by the full commission. The award may have two recipients annually, one recognizing work in historic education and interpretation and the other for work in historic preservation and restoration.

Usually presented in May each year to coincide with Historic Preservation Month, this year in order to accommodate the schedules of the recipients, the award for historic education and Interpretation will be presented to Nolan on April 22 and the award for historic preservation and restoration will be presented to St. Augustine architect Les Thomas on June 10.

David Nolan

head shot photo of David Nolan, recipient of 2019 Adelaide Sanchez AwardA native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Nolan attended public schools in Bayside, NY and Waterbury, CT before attending the University of Virginia.

Nolan arrived in St. Augustine to make it his home in 1977 and within a year was working on a project that would set a course for his interest in the city’s history and in particular its history as told through its architecture. That job was as a member of a team that conducted the first official survey of the city’s buildings which documented each structure’s age, described its architectural style, and included a synopsis of the building’s history.

The two years Nolan worked on the survey, walking up and down the streets of every neighborhood of the city, not only tapped into his interest in the city’s history, but laid the groundwork for his unwavering defense of the city’s historic structures.

This interest and his vast research culminated in the development of one of the most popular books on St. Augustine’s history, The Houses of St. Augustine, a collaboration with artist Jean Ellen Fitzpatrick and photographer Ken Barrett.

By the time The Houses of St. Augustine was published in 1995, Nolan already had two additional publications to his credit. His first book, Fifty Feet in Paradise: The Booming of Florida, relates the history of the booms and busts in Florida’s real estate history. Published in 1984, the book earned the Author’s Award from the Council for Florida Libraries that year. Nolan’s second work was as a contributor to what many consider the state’s definitive literary guide, The Book Lover's Guide to Florida, published in 1992.

Nolan, an activist in the civil rights movement since the early 1960s, is one of the founders of the Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, or ACCORD. Started in 2002, the organization honors participants in St. Augustine’s civil rights demonstrations in 1963 and 1964, led by Dr. Robert Hayling and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which resulted in the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The organization commemorates those demonstrations and their participants through ACCORD’s Freedom Trail of historic sites of the movement and opened the state’s first civil rights museum in Dr. Hayling’s former dental office on Bridge Street in 2014.

Dedicated to telling the story of St. Augustine’s role in the civil rights movement, Nolan has helped bring to national attention the importance of these events for which he has been recognized by both Florida’s Governor and the President of the United States. In 2009, the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act, Nolan was honored by Governor Charlie Crist with the Governor's Points of Light Award for outstanding community service, and the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Barack Obama.

In presenting the Governor's Points of Light Award, Governor Crist noted that Nolan “continually donates his time, money and talents for the education and enrichment of others and future generations.”

A frequent lecturer on historic, architectural, and literary subjects, Nolan has served as president of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society and as a trustee of the Fort Mose Historical Society.

In a 2005 article titled “Why I Live in St. Augustine” published in the Florida Humanities Council’s Forum magazine, Nolan wrote “Like any place, St. Augustine is a work in progress. How much of it will survive in the future depends on how hard current residents work to save it. We should fashion a city that we enjoy and that serves our needs. But we should not pass on to our successors something diminished. Preservation--like freedom in the words of the old song--is a constant struggle.”

Because of his extraordinary contributions as an author, teacher, lecturer, activist, and defender of the accurate telling of our city’s history, recognizing that much of our city’s history lives on today through our city’s architecture, and because of his unwavering advocacy for historic preservation, David Nolan is the 2019 Adelaide Sanchez Award for Historic Education and Interpretation.

Adelaide Sanchez Award

Adelaide Sanchez AwardThe award’s namesake was a native of St. Augustine and worked at the St. Augustine Record from 1930 through 1943 where she was a reporter, features writer, society editor and the Associated Press correspondent. She joined the staff of The Miami Herald where she worked for 30 years serving as Assistant Woman’s Editor covering numerous society events during that city’s very formative three decades. After her retirement in 1973, she returned to St. Augustine and continued writing until her death in 1994 through newsletters for the Flagler Hospital Auxiliary and Trinity Episcopal Church and biographical sketches that were included in the program for Cross and Sword.

But it is her appreciation and love of the city’s historic properties, and her active promotion to ensure the preservation of those resources, that garnered this award being named in her honor. Indeed, her support of historic resources is a classic example of one who “walked the walk.”

In accordance with her wishes, her home on Marine St. was bequeathed to the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board. After the board’s abolishment, the property was transferred to the City of St. Augustine and sold with the proceeds being held in trust, as per her wishes, with the interest earned being designated for awards, programs and stipends with the goal of advancing the interests of historic restoration, preservation, education and interpretation.

Recipients of the Adelaide Sanchez Award for Historic Preservation, Restoration, Education and Interpretation receive a statuette of the lions that grace the western side of the Bridge of Lions. The molds for the replicas were crafted by St. Augustine sculptor Enzo Torcoletti, and each statuette is inscribed with his signature.

Previous recipients of the Adelaide Sanchez Award are:

In 2014, Shelia Greenleaf for her work that preserved the 110 year old Albert Lewis Trough, and Philip McDaniel and Ryan Dettra were recognized for their work that preserved the Ice Plant.

In 2016, the St. Augustine Garrison, received the award for its living history programs, and the Woman’s Exchange of St. Augustine for its preservation and care of the Peña-Peck House.

In 2017, City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline received the award for her staunch and passionate advocacy for historic preservation.

In 2018, Allen and Delores Lastinger and the Lastinger Family Foundation, for their support of a broad range of historic properties throughout St. Augustine.